• Kenneth Leighton
  • Burlesque (1957)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • 2(pic)2234330timp.2percstr
  • 8 min

Programme Note

Kenneth Leighton: Burlesque

A Burla or Burlesca indicates a musical jest of a playful composition. There are examples of it in Bach's third Partita, in A minor, in Schumann's Album Leaves, and in an early work for pianoforte and orchestra by Richard Strauss.

Leighton's work was composed in the spring and summer of 1957 - the right months for a light-hearted piece - and was first performed in a broadcast by the BBC Scottish Orchestra, conducted by Colin Davis.

In a note sent to the present writer Mr Leighton says: "There is no programme to it. It sets out simply to express feelings of exuberance and sometimes playfulness with a good deal of orchestral brilliance, as I hope!"

There are two main ideas, the first is a fast rhythmic motive given out at once by the strings, punctuated by loud brass chords. A brass fanfare contributes a subsidiary idea and these two themes are immediately given rhythmic development. The second main theme, entering at the peak of a climax on the horns, is a broader tune marked ardente.

The piece follows roughly the design of classical sonata form, but there is an extended Coda, in which the second broad theme achieves a final transformation on full brass. There is a good deal of antiphonal treatment in the orchestration.